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Ex-All Black Guildford opens up


Zac Guildford opens up about 'going crazy' during All Black career

Former All Black winger Zac Guildford has opened up about the tragic loss of his father that lead to a spiraling rugby career, unable to find stability even though he was playing at the highest level in the game.

The Napier-product came through the New Zealand age-grade system before playing with the Hurricanes and Crusaders, playing 11 times for the All Blacks from 2009-12. His father passed away shortly after the JWC final against England while he was playing for the New Zealand under-20’s, a moment which he was unable to find peace with.

“I made the All Blacks when I was 20 … the year my dad passed away. I decided I’m just going to try as hard as I can for him. It was a very emotional time for myself and my family.

“But then at the same time I was hurting, I was in pain because I’d lost my dad. I was doing whatever I could to escape, whether that be rugby, whether that be drinking alcohol,” he told Eurosport.

“So my life was catastrophic … everyone thought I was living the dream in being an All Black, but in my head I was going crazy.”

At 24-years-old, Guildford received an early release from the Crusaders to join Clermont in the Top 14, which he ‘wasn’t ready for’ before heading back a year early to play Super Rugby with the Waratahs. He was released after ‘doing the same dumb stuff’, reaching a crossroads with his career.

“When I lost my contract at the Waratahs, after Clermont, I was still doing the same dumb stuff, the same old Zac. Then I went home back to Napier, no contract, no money, and I woke up in my friend’s garage one morning after a big night and [thought] I want to change.

“That’s when I decided to go play amateur rugby in New Zealand in the town I was born in Wairarapa Bush. That was a changing point in my life.”

“It took me to lose all those contracts and end up chopping trees down with my granddad and living with my grandparents to realise maybe I do love this game and I still want to give it another shot.

The 29-year-old is now playing rugby in France, with division two side Nevers.

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Zac Guildford opens up about 'going crazy' during All Black career